HEMET: Sheriff’s K-9 Teams converge on Hemet for day of training

HEMET — Many people driving along Stetson Avenue in the city of Hemet yesterday who noticed what appeared to be a major incident happening at the old K-Mart shopping center were pleasantly surprised to hear the influx of sheriff’s patrol vehicles and K-9 handlers was related to a scheduled day of training for Riverside County Sheriff’s K-9 handlers and their K-9 companions.

Many passersby wondered about the numerous sheriff’s K-9 patrol vehicles that converged on the old K-Mart shopping center in Hemet yesterday. John Strangis photo

The Riverside County Sheriff’s K-9 Team, which is currently made up of 28 deputies and their K-9 companions stationed across the county, features Patrol Service Dogs with a variety of search and apprehension capabilities.

These skills and abilities the dogs and their handlers have learned require constant, regular training to maintain, improve and progress.

The department has sixteen dual-purpose K-9 teams whose primary goal is to combat crime and keep citizens and law enforcement officers safe.

These dual-purpose teams are trained to apprehend dangerous criminals and detect hidden narcotics. The teams cover the areas of Blythe, Cabazon, Hemet, Indio, Jurupa, Lake Elsinore, Perris, and the contract cities of Moreno Valley, Palm Desert, San Jacinto and Temecula.

The K-9 teams, which are primarily composed of two breeds – Belgian Malinois and German or Dutch Shepherds, patrol their assigned areas and are often called upon not only within Riverside County but other counties as well to apprehend suspects who are potentially too dangerous to apprehend without risking significant injury to the officers.

The team also employs the use of two Bloodhound tracking dogs, which are well-known throughout California and are often used by other allied law enforcement agencies throughout the state. The Bloodhounds have been used to locate fleeing felons, lost hikers, and missing persons, including countless missing and at-risk juveniles.

One of the Sheriff’s 28 K-9 teams prepares for a day of training in Hemet, Wednesday, Aug. 16. John Strangis photo

The department’s Hazardous Device Team also features two explosive detection Patrol Service Dogs.

With their incredible, inherent ability to smell things beyond normal, human detection, these dogs are used to detect and locate chemical compounds used as explosives.

The Bloodhounds have been instrumental in helping Hazardous Device Team members locate suspected terrorists, criminals and others in possession of dangerous weapons and potentially explosive ordnance.

The department also has two Patrol Service Dogs that work within the County’s correctional system. The jail-based K-9’s have been instrumental in locating illegal narcotics, cell phones, tobacco, and jail-made intoxicants inside the jail facilities.

These K-9 teams excel not only because of the dog’s abilities, but also due to the dedication of their handlers and the constant monthly training the Sheriff’s Department requires them to undergo.

According to sheriff’s officials, these teams are essential to patrol and jail operations and save about 1,000 man hours per team, per year and are “absolutely irreplaceable.”

Click any image to view full-size gallery.

Hoist Training and Certification with K-9’s Inga and Windy

Ongoing training is a vital aspect of the Sheriff’s K-9 Team. With the assistance of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department’s Aviation Unit, the Sheriff’s K-9 Team broadened their capabilities when Deputy Ochoa and his K-9 partner Windy and Corporal Garvin and his K-9 companion Copper added hoist certification to their long list of abilities and achievements.

In critical situations, when minutes count, this specialized training will allow the department’s tracking teams to insert and extract from a wide variety of difficult terrains and remote areas serviced by the department.

 

Contact the writer: trevor.rcns@gmail.com

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Trevor Montgomery runs Riverside County News Source and Shasta County News Source. Additionally, he writes for Riverside County based newspapers, Valley News and Anza Valley Outlook and also writes for Bonsall/Fallbrook Village News in San Diego County.

Trevor spent 10 years in the U.S. Army as an Orthopedic Specialist before joining the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department in 1998. He was medically retired after losing his leg and breaking his back in an off-duty accident.

During his time with the sheriff’s department, Trevor worked at several different stations, including Robert Presley Detention Center, Southwest Station in Temecula, Hemet/Valle Vista Station, Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center and Lake Elsinore Station, along with other locations.

Trevor’s assignments included Corrections, Patrol, DUI Enforcement, Boat and Personal Water-Craft based Lake Patrol, Off-Road Vehicle Enforcement, Problem Oriented Policing Team and Personnel/Background Investigations. He finished his career while working as a Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Investigator and was a court-designated expert in child abuse and child sex-related crimes.

Trevor has been married for more than 26 years and was a foster parent to more than 60 children over 13 years. He is now an adoptive parent and has 13 children and 13 – soon to be 14 – grandchildren.

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